A new round of Georgian-Abkhaz negotiations began in Moscow today after Russia partially lifted the blockade of Abkhazia’s capital Sukhumi by Russia’s Black Sea coast guard. Moreover, according to Abkhaz prime minister Gennady Gagulia, Moscow has apparently agreed that Abkhaz, and not Georgian, military units will join Russian forces in guarding the Abkhazia stretch of the Transcaucasus railroad, which is due for reconstruction and reopening in the next few months. Yesterday in Moscow, the Abkhaz delegates reaffirmed the demand for recognition of Abkhazia’s secession and establishment of an association of two equal states–rump Georgia and Abkhazia. They also called for the continued deployment of Russian "peacekeeping" troops on the Abkhaz-Georgian "border." (15)
Moscow’s shift on the blockade and the railroad must disappoint Georgian head of state Eduard Shevardnadze who has been calling for a strict "isolation" of "separatist" Abkhazia by joint Russian-Georgian efforts. It also probably explains Shevardnadze’s decision two days ago to emphatically condition Russia’s troop, including "peacekeeping," presence on progress toward regaining Abkhazia. But Tbilisi’s leverage appears very limited in this situation.
First Steps Toward Military Cooperation With US And NATO.